Sunday, April 15, 2007

I Feel Another Baking Spelt Coming On

At long last! Ever since it came out, I've been eager to get my hands on a library copy of the King Arthur Flour Whole Grain Baking cookbook. (I prefer to borrow cookbooks first before I decide if they're really worth adding to my collection.) And now that I have, I can see that I will have to get a copy for myself from King Arthur Flour sometime soon.

See, I've been baking with whole grains for a while now, but I don't really know them intimately... know how they work together, what properties the various grains have, what grains work best for what kinds of foods, and so on. Whole wheat flour and oats, I have no problem with. But thanks to my finds from the local grist mill, I also have rye flour, corn flour, and spelt flour in the refrigerator waiting to be used.

I've barely begun to scratch the surface of this new cookbook, but for this weekend's baking I thought I'd find some muffin or quick bread recipe that used spelt flour, something I've never worked with before. So I decided to learn.

I had heard from the fair Titania that spelt was a better grain for diabetics, though I didn't know until I skimmed the cookbook that spelt has a lower glycemic index and breaks down in the body more slowly than other grains, thus slowing the rise of blood sugar levels. Spelt also is high in protein and is extremely water-soluble, so all its good nutrients can be absorbed better by the human body. And the cookbook notes that the structure of baked goods using spelt are more fragile, requiring more care and a rest between mixing and baking.

I thumbed through the recipes and found one for Cranberry-Orange Spelt Muffins that looked rather tasty. Of course, I didn't have dried cranberries at hand, nor orange juice, but you know me... I improvised. I pulled out some of the local raspberries I had oven-dried last year and soaked them in hot water before adding them to a batter enriched with local spelt flour, local milk, local maple syrup, and local eggs. I slid the bowl of batter into the refrigerator overnight and went to bed dreaming of fresh muffins for breakfast.

When I stepped into the kitchen this morning, I mixed up a simple streusel to top the muffins (and I have to add that the good folks at King Arthur Flour love streusel as much as I do: I had plenty left over!). After that, it was a quick and easy task to fill the muffin tins, sprinkle the streusel on top, and slide the pan into the oven.

The recipe indicated that allowing the batter to rest overnight in the refrigerator resulted in a higher-rising muffin, and it was immediately obvious that they weren't kidding!

As with the proverbial pudding, though, the proof of the muffin is definitely in the eating. And yes, these delectable morsels certainly do prove themselves! The overnight rest adds a nice tang to the intense raspberry flavor, the spelt flour adds a tender and nutty taste, and the streusel... well, you just can't go wrong with balancing a soft muffin with a sweet crunch on top.

Overall, these make a satisfying breakfast, and I know I'll enjoy them during my morning coffee breaks at work this week.

And I'll scour this book for more opportunities to add spelt to my baking.

Raspberry-Walnut Spelt Muffins

Now that I'm getting more comfortable with various muffin recipes, I'm happy to experiment with new possibilities, and I definitely think this one will have to get into the baking rotation. The original recipe called for dried cranberries soaked in warm orange juice, but I found that other dried berries soaked in hot water worked just fine. (Of course, soaked raspberries do tend to give a purple cast to the muffin batter, but that doesn't really bother me.) I also decided that a little extra flavor was needed, so I tipped in vanilla and almond extracts. (Sometimes the King Arthur recipes seem woefully inadequate in this regard, and I don't understand why.) Do make the batter the night before and let it rest in the refrigerator overnight; not only does it contribute to better rising and taste, but it also means you'll get your breakfast much more quickly in the morning!

1 c dried raspberries
1/2 c hot water
1 1/4 c whole spelt flour
1 c unbleached flour
1 T baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
3/4 c milk
1/4 c maple syrup or honey
2 large eggs
1 T safflower or canola oil
1 tsp dried orange peel or 1 T fresh orange zest
1/2 tsp almond extract
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 c chopped walnuts

Place raspberries in a small, heatproof bowl and cover with hot water. Allow to soak for half an hour.

Whisk together spelt flour, unbleached flour, baking powder, and salt. In a separate bowl, whisk together milk, maple syrup or honey, eggs, oil, orange peel, and extracts. Add wet ingredients to dry, mixing just until flour is incorporated. Fold in walnuts, berries, and water. Cover bowl and refrigerate batter overnight.

3 T unsalted butter, softened
1/4 c maple sugar
1/4 c oat bran
1/4 c whole wheat flour
1/2 c chopped walnuts

Cream together butter and maple sugar. Add oat bran, flour, and nuts and mix until crumbly.

Remove batter from refrigerator. Preheat oven to 400 F. Lightly grease a muffin tin. Scoop batter into muffin cups until almost full. Sprinkle with streusel.

Bake muffins at 400 F until golden brown and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, about 24 minutes. Remove pan from oven and allow muffins to cool in the pan for 10 minutes before removing to a wire rack to finish cooling.

Makes 12 big berry-full and nutty muffins


At 4/15/2007 6:11 PM, Blogger PJH said...

Hi, BQ: So glad you enjoyed the spelt muffins! And I trust you'll find lots of other goodies in the book... I happen to be one of the three authors, and I did a lot of fooling around with spelt. It makes wonderful focaccia, should you want to try that, as well as pancakes (try the triple ginger pancakes). Anyway, if you'd like to link your readers to our site, where they can find more spelt recipes and lots of good information, I'd surely appreciate it:
Enjoy! - PJH

At 4/18/2007 6:06 AM, Blogger The Baklava Queen said...

Wow, thanks for stopping by, PJ! I'm honored! I plan on getting my own copy of the book soon as I can tell there's a lot of good information on the properties of the various grains that I'll need to learn to improve my baking with them. (Not to mention I get hungry every time I sit down to browse the recipes!)

I did see the spelt pancake recipe, which I also thought about trying over the weekend, but if you're going to mention ginger, well, I'm hooked.

Thanks again for the comment, and please give everyone at King Arthur Flour my thanks for having so many baking goodies that I want to try!

NOTE to Dear Readers: KAF isn't paying me to say all that... I just love their stuff and am tickled to have one of their authors visit my little blog!


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